Saturday, November 28, 2009

GO during CN strike

CN strike won't affect GO trains

MONTREAL–Canadian National Railway locomotive engineers walked off the job at midnight Friday after mediated contract talks collapsed.

But despite sharing several railways in the GTA, CN representatives say GO Transit riders will not be affected by the locomotive engineers strike.

"There is not going to be any impact on GO Transit because of this strike. No impact at all," said CN communications director, Mark Hallman."GO has its own crews, so they are not affected by this strike."

CN Rail owns a large network of railways in the Toronto area and GO Transit operates within the network, said Hallman. "We're the landlord and GO is effectively the tenant," he explained.

1,700 engineers walked out at midnight Friday after mediated contract negotiations between the two sides collapsed. No further talks between CN representatives and the Teamsters union have been scheduled at this time.

Hallman said supervisors and managers who are qualified engineers would take over operation of the locomotives to minimize any possible disruption of freight service.

"We're going to try to provide the best service we can, given the circumstances," Hallman said.

"We will advise our customers and other stakeholders on the state of operations as we move forward."

Hallman added the strike would not affect Via Rail passenger service or commuter rail service in the Montreal area.

Hallman said CN is disappointed by the union's rejection of its request for binding arbitration to settle the dispute.

Teamsters union spokesman Stephane Lacroix said a strike could have been postponed had the railway agreed to negotiate and not impose a 1.5 per cent wage increase and revised mileage caps.

Canada's largest railway invoked contractual changes three days after negotiations broke off Nov. 20 following 14 months of talks.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference followed by issuing a 72-hour strike notice. It said the company was effectively locking out employees by unilaterally changing terms and conditions of the collective agreement.

The union has said that raising the monthly mileage cap by 500 miles to 4,300 miles would require some locomotive engineers to work seven days a week with no time off and cause layoffs.

CN says its locomotive engineers work on average 37 hours per week under the current 3,800-mile cap and the 4,300-mile cap will increase that on average to approximately 41 hours.

The railway also said that rather than working between 15 and 17 days per month on average, the locomotive engineers will work between 16 and 18 days per month on average.

The railway's last contract offer included a two per cent wage increase in each of 2009, 2010, 2011 and three per cent for 2012, along with standard benefit improvements. That was contingent on concluding a stable long-term agreement.

The most recent strike at CN ended after more than two months in 2007 when Parliament enacted back-to-work legislation affecting 2,800 conductors represented by the United Transportation Union.

The railway estimated the strike cost it $50 million in operating income and $35 million in net income.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, CN's shares gained 58 cents at $55.58 in Friday trading.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

opposition to transportation plan in Dundas

Group questioning transportation plan
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff, Published on Nov 20, 2009

A local transportation advocacy group is not happy with recommendations in the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan, approved by the city’s public works committee last week

Randy Kay of Transportation for Liveable Communities said the group will make comments during a 60-day public review period.

“Having gone through the stakeholder process from the first meeting on this, it feels to me like it was put together by people who don’t walk or cycle in town,” Kay said.

In a letter submitted to the public works committee, Kay stated the group feels its comments contributed during the lengthy master plan process have not been properly addressed.

In a detailed, three-page summary originally submitted a year ago, Kay states “road widening, vague and non-committal talk of transit improvements, and further delays in implementing the long-overdue cycling improvements are the order of the day.

“This is not the emphasis we desire, nor expect.”

More specifically, the submission opposes the recommendation to widen Governor’s Road to four lanes, with no evaluation of TLC’s suggestion to close Ogilvie to cars at Governor’s Road. The group also opposes a recommendation to widen the Hatt Street/Memorial Square intersection, and questions several aspects of the master plan.

The recommendations include changes at nine different Dundas intersections.

Details on how the public can participate in the 60 day review of the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan were not available by deadline.

The report still needs approval from Hamilton city council.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

paradigm shift needed for transit

CATCH Articles:

Study says HSR should be expanded

Nov 09, 2009

A comprehensive operational review says the HSR needs to add ten to fifteen buses a year to achieve the city’s transit goals. It also suggests ways to improve Hamilton’s transit system and offers ideas on modifying existing bus routes and service frequencies.

The year long study by IBI Group was commissioned by the city and tracked ridership at all 2264 stops on the HSR’s 32 routes and compared the results to other communities. A summary was given verbally to councillors in a slide presentation on October 29, but the full document has not yet been made public.

The slides say that the HSR is “performing well … given financial and other constraints” but warn councillors that “there are no magic bullets to grow transit ridership without incurring increased costs”. The consultants argue strongly that more spending is what is required.

“A paradigm shift is needed in city thinking and decision making to make transit a priority,” said IBI presenter Brian Hollingsworth. “The HSR is at a crossroads. All policies and plans call for continued growth, but continued financial constraints are a barrier.”

Hollingsworth pointed to the Vision 2020 goal of 100 rides per person per annum by 2020, and the target of the city transportation master plan to reduce vehicle use by 20 percent by 2030. The provincial and federal governments are also supporting transit improvements with gas tax monies.

He noted that HSR ridership is currently at 45 rides per capita per year, down from 47 in 2008. To achieve the 100 target “would require a doubling of service hours and associated funding increases”.

“HSR should be adding 10-15 buses per year to meet this target by 2021,” says the summary, but notes that “concentrating future population and employment in existing transit corridors and other transit supportive policies can reduce the need for service expansion” in meeting city targets. These policies include promoting infill and higher density, reducing parking requirements, and “controlling sprawl of commercial (i.e. big-box) development”.

The study also contends there are good reasons to improve transit services including the “high cost of owning and operating private automobiles” and the fact that gas tax funding for the city “is tied to demonstrated progress on ridership growth.” It also notes that transit promotes economic development because “increasingly companies are seeking to locate in cities that have high levels of transit accessibility.”

While praising the overall efficiency of the HSR, IBI notes that average fares are low because of the large number of riders getting discounted or free trips. They calculate that “44 percent of all passengers have a discounted fare other than an adult monthly pass” and note that “free boardings for persons with personal mobility devices are potentially subject to abuse.”

Reducing this fare “leakage,” IBI suggests, could be an alternative to fare increases. And they urge “discounts for social programs should be treated as such and not funded entirely from the HSR budget.”

Other ideas for savings include “implementing transit priority in the King-Main corridor” which IBI calculates could significantly reduce the number of required buses – each of which costs the HSR $300,000 a year to operate.

Maps in the presentation show possible changes to bus routes and service frequencies as “for discussion”. At the request of city staff the IBI findings have been referred to the transit department for review and a future report to committee of the whole.

cycling staff

CATCH Articles:

Cycling job made permanent

Nov 16, 2009

Economic Development and Planning Committee REPORT 09-023 Tuesday, November 3, 2009 It’s taken nearly three years, and is still opposed by more than a third of city council, but Hamilton now has a permanent alternative transportation coordinator. The position has been temporary since June 2007 and serves to direct improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure as well as pedestrian initiatives. Economic Development and Planning Committee REPORT 09-023 Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The city started allocating one percent of its road budget to cycling initiatives at the beginning of the decade, but didn’t hire anyone to oversee the spending. That led to the allocation being suspended in 2003 and again in 2007 by which time $772,000 had accumulated unspent.

The 2007 funding cancellation was bitterly denounced by Brian McHattie and also led the volunteer Hamilton Cycling Committee to suspend its activities in protest. That led to the June 2007 decision to establish a temporary two-year position using some of the accumulated capital dollars.

Two years later, in June of this year, coordinator Daryl Bender unveiled a $51.5 million cycling master plan and senior staff proposed making his position permanent. Their report pointed to successful implementation of a number of cycling projects since Bender’s hiring as evidence of the “great value in having a cycling coordinator” position.

“Integral to delivering the plan is the requirement for a full-time staff member dedicated to delivering the program,” argued the staff report. “In order that the cycling infrastructure in the master plan is implemented, it is recommended that this position be made permanent.”

The master plan was approved, but only in principle without any funding commitment, and a decision on Bender’s position was deferred. The proposal returned to the committee on November 2 and was debated in camera and approved by a 5-1 vote.

That brought it to last week’s city council meeting where it was questioned by Brad Clark and Terry Whitehead. The latter pointed to “budget pressures” and moved to defer it again.

“I think this should be deferred to the budget process, quite frankly, so we can have a fulsome discussion and understand all the different pressures,” said Whitehead. His motion was backed by Clark, along with Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Dave Mitchell and Robert Pasuta but it was defeated 10-6.

The same six councillors then voted against the decision to make the coordinator position permanent. A decision on funding for the cycling master plan may come next month when councillors debate next year’s capital budget.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


HSR buses equipped to call out the stops by year's end

The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 18, 2009)

Next stop: automated announcements on HSR buses.

The city is about to finish installing equipment that will call out stops on all buses. The technology should be up and running by year's end, says Carol Wildeman, senior project manager in the city's transit department.

HSR drivers will log into a computer system that will communicate their route with a GPS system. This will make sure the system only calls out the stops on the driver's particular route. The stop names will also be displayed on LED signs.

The next few weeks will be spent testing the announcements to make sure everything is in place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GO to Niagara

GO studies rail expansion to Falls

, The Hamilton Spectator

GO Transit has eased the throttle open a notch on the prospect of commuter trains running into Niagara Falls.

An environmental assessment beginning this week will look at what infrastructure upgrades would be required to expand commuter rail service beyond Hamilton.

But GO Transit says a business case must still be made for the service.

The environmental assessment will be finished next summer, followed by a public review period and a business assessment.

The moves come after a highly successful weekend tourist service between Toronto and Niagara this summer. That service did not make stops in Hamilton.

"The potential service expansion along the Niagara corridor will depend on various factors such as fleet availability, capital and operating funds and supportive business partnerships with the railways," Gary McNeil, GO Transit’s managing director, said in a statement today.

The Niagara service expansion is part of GO Transit’s Strategic Plan: GO 2020.

GO introduced year-round weekday and weekend bus service to Niagara Falls on Sept. 5 between the Niagara Falls VIA Rail station and the Burlington GO Station with stops in Stoney Creek, Grimsby, and St. Catharines connecting to GO’s Lakeshore train service at Aldershot.

Dundas Downtown Letdown

Dear Public Works Committee,

Regarding item 8.1 on the this morning's agenda, Transportation for Liveable Communities feels that our comments have not been properly addressed through the public process to date. There is enough at stake here regarding the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, that TLC requests the committee postpone approval until our concerns are adequately dealt with.
I have attached our original reply to the recommendations of November 2008 to give a more detailed account of our objections.
Unfortunately we are unable to attend the committee meeting this morning to personally present our objections, but I hope this communication will reach you and emphasize the scope of our concerns,


for TLC

[TLC's Google Map of Cycling Projects for Dundas as listed by the DDTMP here]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Flawed Transit Funding Process

Letter to Council: Flawed Transit Funding Process Needs Public Input, Accountability

In the absence of any meaningful process of engagement, and given how information is kept secret until the last minute, we have a sure recipe to breed conflict, confrontation, and poor transit decisions.

By Peter Hutton
Oct. 26, 2009


To Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Members of Council

It is with great concern that we have followed the process that leads to the Committee of the Whole Meeting this week, which appears now to have been called simply to raise transit fares.

While we recognize the difficult financial times, it is not, we think, a situation that should surprise anyone. Little has been done to find solutions other than an increase that even your managers will tell you is in conflict with your strategic goals for building a transit system.

Our small effort has been to develop a Transit Vision survey independent from the HSR's work to get some ideas from the public about what to do. The interim results of that unscientific survey will hopefully be brought forward to council later this week.

While self-selected, it is the views of hundreds of Hamiltonians who care about transit, and represent the views of many more who are worried that our transit system, which is essential for the economic, environmental and social health of this city, is going downhill fast.

I write today to address process. Our group is deeply concerned that yet again, fares are going to be considered outside the context of the main budget.

An extra budget meeting to give Council some context has been set for Tuesday, which we noted only on the calendar this weekend. That was apparently announced after Thursday's meeting was first advertised.

In the absence of any meaningful process of engagement with riders and other Hamilton residents by the city in the past year and given how information is kept secret until the last minute, we have a sure recipe to breed conflict, confrontation, and poor, not broadly supported decisions.

TUG laments that the gas tax committee, for example, was never allowed the opportunity to morph into an ongoing advisory committee, thanks to staff inertia. It could have been a vehicle for mobilizing such public discussions.

It is our understanding that the HSR operational review, which has not yet been released, supports our view of the need for investment in transit beyond the status quo.

We see no need for delay for a staff report that further excludes the public. While the process of engagement on the review was hopelessly inadequate - two small focus groups - it was a start and we have to make a start in all of this somewhere. The status quo won't cut it for this or future budgets.

We recognize that a fare increase may be needed but it must be tied to a realistic plan to address the needs for service improvement in both quality and quantity.

We seem to be going nowhere fast. We call again on Council to develop some process of broader engagement and discussion to determine options for a consensus to move forward. Fare, taxes, service redeployment, different kinds of services, will all be a part of that community consensus.

Given that transit fares are considered to be a user fee; and given the fact that it seems Council has set aside three additional meetings to consider user fees; we call on council at a minimum to determine that no decision be made this Thursday, and that a final decision be made later in November after we take the month to have an open and honest debate around all transit issues.

Crowning Queensdale with Bicycle Lanes?

1) The public meeting for the bike facility on Queensdale is TONIGHT. Residents are being shown a plan that proposes to consolidate all parking to one side of the street. The two area Councillors are hopefully going to attend as well.

Please share this info with others.

A community meeting (drop-in format) has been arranged to present more details and answer any questions. The meeting details are as follows:

Monday November 16, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Eastmount Community Centre (on East 26th Street, just north of Queensdale, beside Eastmount Park Elementary School)

Should you have any questions regarding these plans, please contact Daryl Bender, Project Manager of Alternative Transportation ( or 905.546.2424 x 2066

2) I understand the Alternative Transportation job position has been approved by Council.
The minutes from the meeting are not posted yet - only the agenda:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

transit letter

Mohawk students should reconsider bus deal

The Hamilton Spectator
(Nov 14, 2009)

Re: 'Mohawk student union turned down bus deal' (Letters, Nov. 9)

Discounted bus passes for full-time Mohawk College students has been a dead issue for 10 years. That was the last time it was put to the student body in a referendum.

Since then, Mohawk as a "commuter college" has been the refrain among student representatives. It seemed most were content to see streams of single- occupancy vehicles crowd the Fennell Campus parking lot, while students who took the bus paid regular adult fares. No wonder most choose to drive.

The cost of eight months' worth of adult fare passes is currently $632, while parking on campus is $225 per semester. If cost is the same, most will choose to drive.

Over the past month, students have collected signatures on a petition asking the student association to explore the possibility of a bus pass. The response has been overwhelming; 1,600 signatures have been collected.

Maybe the old label of "commuter college" can finally be expanded to include those who commute within Hamilton on public transit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Downtown Dundas TMP Going to Public Works Monday

TLC has asked to speak to the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan at the Public Works committee, Monday morning at 10am at the Albion Room of the Hamilton Convention Centre.
The report at issue is found here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

transit votes

[suburban votes guarantee fare increase...]

City to hike bus fares, starting Jan. 1
Basic fare jumps 15 cents to $2.55, but yearly seniors' passes won't take a hit

, The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 12, 2009)

Hamiltonians will pay 15 cents more for bus fares beginning Jan. 1.

An increase that will see fares climb from $2.40 to $2.55 passed with a narrow 9-7 vote at last night's city council meeting. Tickets will also go up 15 cents to $2 and monthly passes will climb to $86 from $79.

Yearly seniors' passes will remain the same price.

The hike is expected to bump revenue by $1.5 million, an amount that will offset the HSR's estimated $1.6-million loss this year and a predicted $3.4-million shortfall next year.

Council initially rejected both a 10-cent fare increase and a 20-cent increase at a special budget transit meeting in late October. Though most councillors supported a hike, their votes were split between a 10-cent or 20-cent increase.

The 15-cent hike was a "compromise," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

"In a perfect world, I would have liked to see 20 cents," he said. "Twenty cents is what's necessary, and 15 cents is a reasonable compromise."

The vote re-opened a long-running debate that "breeds an environment that's really conducive to hostility," said Councillor Sam Merulla. Councillor Brian McHattie, who voted against the increase, called it "an extremely unfortunate and wrongheaded move" and warned it will decrease ridership.

Councillors Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins both said they supported a 10-cent increase, but voted against the 15-cent hike.

"I can't support the 15 cents. I think it does go too far," Collins said.

"From my perspective, I think it's reasonable to expect an increase, and 10 cents for me works."

Still, the goal of keeping next year's property tax hike to two per cent or less ultimately convinced most council members to vote in favour of the increase.

"If we don't get it from the fare box, we certainly have to dip into the tax base," Eisenberger said. "The two per cent target is going to be a difficult one to achieve, and it will be even more difficult without this increase."

The hike comes into effect exactly two years after the last increase from $2.25 to $2.40.

Council also requested a report on automatically calculating future fare increases in time for next year's budget.

That formula could prevent the transit debate from resurfacing each year, Eisenberger said.


Yes: Brad Clark, Fred Eisenberger, Lloyd Ferguson, Tom Jackson, Margaret McCarthy, Dave Mitchell, Robert Pasuta, Maria Pearson, Russ Powers

No: Bob Bratina, Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, Bernie Morelli, Terry Whitehead

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cycling staff up for renewal tonight

Dear Mayor and Council,

As cycling advocates in the city, we are looking forward to council approving the renewal of the cycling coordinator position tonight; as you know TLC has been strongly in favour of having this position in place, especially now that the Shifting Gears plan is updated and in need of ongoing action from the city.

On behalf of TLC, our thanks for your support for cycling in the city,

Randy Kay

Transportation for Liveable Communities
(TLC) Hamilton
905-525-9140 ext. 26026
PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Latest newsletter on Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan, including a new roundabout for Governor's Road can be found at the city of Hamilton web site here.

Some key points from "The new recommendations added into the final version of the DDTMP are:

1. Intersection and Roadway Facility Improvements

  • Hatt Street Traffic Calming Study- undertake a traffic calming study to reduce vehicle speeds and provide additional pedestrian crossing locations.
  • Creekside Drive Traffic Calming Study- undertake a traffic calming study to reduce traffic infiltration and improve safety.
  • Governor’s Road / Ogilive Street Operational Improvements- modify the pavement markings on the northbound approach (Ogilive Street) to better delineate the commencement of the northbound right turn lane. Also, the horizon for improvements changed from long-term to medium and short-term.
  • Governor’s Road/ Main Street/ Osler Intersection Operations and Safety Improvement- provide exclusive northbound and southbound left turn lanes by widening Main Street and Osler Drive to a 5-lane cross-section. Optimize signal timing plans. Medium term horizon.
  • Hatt Street/Memorial Square Intersection- monitor transportation operations to determine if improvements are warranted in the future to address capacity shortfalls for the southbound approach (short term).
  • Market Street/Hatt Street Intersection- Add a westbound and eastbound left turn lanes with 15 metre storage bays.

2. Transit Facility Alternatives
  • Implement a zone bus service to replace conventional fixed route transit. Provide connection to B-line service at University Plaza
  • Ensure appropriate transit shelters and passenger amenities/information at highly used stops and at Node locations .
  • Identify opportunities to provide transit priority features encompassing physical improvements and technology improvements where transit vehicles are delayed. This may be near the transit terminal and connection to the B-line service.
  • Investigate developing a multi-modal facility in Dundas just outside the Downtown area that strengthens linkages to the existing facility located at McMaster University;
  • Establish park and ride facilities at key transit hubs. In Dundas, a logical location for a park and ride facility would be at the University Plaza. An agreement would be made with the plaza owner to reserve a small number of spaces that would allow Dundas residents to connect to the B-Line.

3. Cycling Facility Improvements

View Dundas - cycling recommendations in Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan in a larger map
On Street Bike Lanes- Implement cycling facility improvements per direction provided in City-Wide Cycling Master Plan update. Facilities in Downtown Dundas include:
  • King Street West: cycling lanes from Market Street to Bond Street
  • Market Street: cycling lanes from Governor’s Road to King Street West
  • Hatt Street: cycling lanes from Market Street to Main Street
  • Sydenham Street / Memorial Square: cycling lanes from Hatt Street to Romar Drive
  • Main Street / Osler Drive: cycling lanes from King Street to Main Street West
  • Ogilvie Street: cycling lanes from Hatt Street to the multi-use trail south of Dundana Avenue
  • York Street: cycling lanes from King Street East to Olympic Drive
  • Governor’s Road: cycling lanes from Cootes Drive to Binkley Road

traffic woes nothing to sneeze at...

Safety issues won’t move H1N1 clinic

Governor’s Road site will remain in use

Craig Campbell, News Staff
Published on Nov 06, 2009

Dundas Baptist Church on Governor’s Road will remain one of Hamilton’s four HINI influenza immunization clinics as long as the city still has doses of the vaccine, despite problems with traffic safety in the surrounding area.

Hamilton Police expressed concerns over the location of the main immunization clinic when it was announced. And Division 30 Inspector Bob Buck said there were traffic and pedestrian safety issues on the already controversial road right from the start.

“It became dangerous,” Inspector Buck said. “We raised that issue. We expressed concern about that location. From a traffic and pedestrian standpoint, it’s a difficult location.”

As the only immunization clinic for at-risk residents open all five days Oct. 26-30, the Dundas Baptist Church site saw the biggest influx of people by far. Hamilton Public Health Services staff say more than 8,000 people were injected with the H1N1 vaccine –that’s more than 1,600 people each day and over 280 people every hour.

But residents saw the impact as thousands of people looked for limited parking and lined up along the side of Governor’s Road waiting their turn.

“It was crazy,” said Randy Kay of the group Transportation for Livable Communities, which has been calling for safety and pedestrian improvements to Governor’s Road.

“The parking lot filled, cars parked on the side street, and cars backed up two lanes wide to Overfield. Crazy!”

He went by the Baptist Church clinic last Friday about 15 minutes before it closed. Mr. Kay suggested hindsight may encourage Public Health to examine the location, and move the immunization clinic somewhere with more parking or find a site people can get to without a car if they choose.

But Public Health spokesperson Tara Hall said no review of the location has taken place, and the clinic will not move from that site

“Dundas Baptist Church is one of four permanent locations,” Ms. Hall said.

The site met the required criteria for H1N1 clinics, including providing enough space and being available to the city for the required four to six weeks.

As long as Hamilton still has vaccine available, the Governor’s Road location is scheduled to be used until just before Christmas. It wasn’t known earlier this week when the clinic will open to the general public.

Ms. Hall said the public health department hopes having more clinics open this week, and insisting only the most at-risk residents get the vaccine for now, pressure on the Dundas location will ease and there will be fewer traffic and pedestrian safety problems.

Hamilton Police put an on-duty officer at the site immediately, expecting it to be an issue when it opened last Monday at 1 p. m. But when police discovered how busy it was and the officer was unavailable to respond to calls, a paid-duty or overtime officer was assigned to the site.

But police and public health commended each other on their individual efforts to keep the location as safe as possible, and manage the large numbers of people.

Inspector Buck said clinic staff did a really good job managing the people who showed up, and Ms. Hall said police did a great job managing traffic and providing safe pedestrian crossing across Governor’s Road.

parking racket?

Not sure it's really fair that McMaster tickets bicycles parked anywhere but the provided bicycle racks when those bicycle racks are already overcrowded with bicycles.
It seems there need to be more racks available before people are threatened with fines, etc.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Valley Inn Bridge closed

Work underway on the old bailey bridge at Valley Inn Road, part of the improvements to the cycling and pedestrian environment that are to follow the fairly recent closure of the road to motor vehicles. Above, at around 2pm and below a couple hours later from the same side of the bridge.

My cycling partner and I were able to cross the bridge today, but we had to go over the flexible fencing to do so. Check back here to find out more about the bridge work and any expected work that would block passage.

UPDATE: checked the city web site for this project and this work is listed as the "first stage" of implementing the heritage design:
Implementation of the plan will occur in phases. It is anticipated that the works on the Hamilton side and the rehabilitation of the Valley Inn Road Bridge will be the first stage of the project. Discussions are ongoing with the City of Burlington to finalize interim termination details as no work on the Burlington side is anticipated in the first stage.
It would be helpful to know when, and for how long, the bridge will be out of commission for pedestrians and cyclists. Hopefully more info from staff is forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 08, 2009

fare taxes

CATCH News – November 3, 2009
Higher bus fares versus higher taxes
It would cost the average Ancaster household less than $2.50 a year to avoid an HSR fare hike that would add over one hundred dollars to the expenses of a regular adult bus rider. Differential transit taxes mean a Hamilton home of similar value would pay just over $11 a year to keep bus fares at their current levels (see table).
The proposed twenty-cent-a-ride fare hike has sharply divided councillors. It is intended to raise $1.9 million which is about 4.2 percent of the $45 million in property taxes collected for HSR services this year.
An Ancaster home valued at $300,000 currently pays $58 a year for the HSR. A similar priced home in the former city of Hamilton pays $266 a year with households in the other former municipalities falling in between these two extremes – Waterdown $60, Dundas $65, Stoney Creek $85 and Glanbrook $114 (see table).
About 15 percent of households are rural and they neither receive HSR service nor pay any taxes towards its operations. All households receive DARTS service and share equally in its costs. The variable tax rates in the urban areas are a carryover from before amalgamation ten years ago when the former suburbs purchased transit service from Hamilton.
The proposed twenty cent HSR fare hike would raise the adult pass by $9 a month or $108 a year. Cash fares would rise to $2.60 a ride from the current $2.40.
Council has instructed city staff to limit increases in departmental budgets to no more than two percent, a directive made more difficult by already approved wage increases in the three percent range. The HSR faces the additional problem of a three percent drop in ridership that is expected to cut $1.3 million from its revenues this year and in 2010.
After squeezing other spending, the transit division is $1.9 million over the two percent target – an amount that it thinks can be recouped by the 20-cent-a-ride fare hike. However that could be optimistic because it assumes no drop in the number of passengers who will pay the higher fares to ride the bus.
The inconclusive outcome of last week’s debate on the HSR budget reflects the division between transit promotion and higher taxes, and largely pits suburban councillors against their colleagues in the former city of Hamilton. It’s further complicated by this being the last city budget before municipal elections next fall.
On October 29, five councillors endorsed a 20-cent fare hike – Dave Mitchell, Maria Pearson, Rob Pasuta, Russ Powers and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. That proposal went down to defeat 8 to 5 – the same fate that met an earlier move to raise fares by 10 cents that was supported by Mitchell, along with Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Tom Jackson and Terry Whitehead.
Together that makes nine councillors supporting a fare hike. Four others voted against both proposed increases – Bob Bratina, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla and Bernie Morelli – and three were absent – Brad Clark, Lloyd Ferguson and Margaret McCarthy.
A fare hike won’t entirely eliminate a rise in transit taxes, but it will lower the budget increase to the approved two percent increase. If there is no fare hike, the tax hit for the HSR will be 6.2% per household, or about $3.60 per household in Ancaster and $16.50 in old Hamilton.
The actual tax hike will also vary according to the assessed value of each house. A higher percentage of suburban residences exceed the $300,000 figure than the homes in the older parts of the city.
Much of last Thursday’s debate focused on whether or not to shift some capital dollars to the HSR operating budget, a move suggested by transit staff but not recommended by the finance department. That would have covered half of the budget overrun and reduced the fare hike to 10 cents per ride.
McHattie announced he’s pursuing an alternative option that would add $3 million to the HSR operating budget by shifting provincial gas tax monies from the capital budget to the operating side of the ledger and replacing the capital dollars with federal gas tax monies.
The latter monies were originally earmarked by the federal government for transit use only in cities over 500,000 population, but Hamilton fell below that threshold initially and the rules have subsequently been broadened to allow allocation to other capital expenditures. At this point, about half the annual subsidy of $79 million is being used for waste management facilities, with the remainder split between road construction and the renovations to city hall.
The fare hike is expected to be debated and voted on again at the November 11 city council meeting.
Taxes for HSR on a $300,000 home within the transit service area
and effect of avoiding a proposed 20 cent per ride fare hike
HSR taxes
per household
4.2% increase
to avoid a
fare hike
2% increase
fare hike
Total HSR tax
increase with
no fare hike
Stoney Creek
Rural areas

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to

Saturday, November 07, 2009

car sick

A healthy child in Canada is about 20 times more likely to be killed by a car than by the H1N1 virus, Schabas said, but that isn't going to make the national news.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Transportation for Liveable Communities - open meeting:

WHAT: TLC Meeting
WHEN: Monday, November 9, 2009, 6:30pm
WHERE: NEW LOCATION DUE TO STRIKE ON CAMPUS: Ray's Place Boathouse (303 Dundurn Street South)

Bus tickets available upon request

boost your bike memory

Tracking two-wheelers
Police roll out program to ID, return stolen bikes

, The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 3, 2009)

Can you describe your bike without looking?

Are you able to rattle off the serial number and the type of handlebars well enough to have a cop recognize it and return it?

For most cyclists, the answer is no.

That is why Hamilton police take in 600 to 1,000 bicycles a year -- most recovered after being stolen or lost -- and have a rough time finding the rightful owners.

Many of those bikes are expensive pieces of machinery. Now police are trying to do something to help owners with their memory.

Operation Bike Guard was unveiled yesterday morning at the beginning of National Police Week.

Bike owners get a simple printed envelope on which they fill in the blanks, making note of their bike's serial number and distinguishing features.

It's available from community policing centres or online at, where you can download the form and print it.

If you go to the Ottawa Street, Landsdale or Concession Street policing centres, volunteers there can take a photo of your bike and give you a hard copy for your records.

Crime prevention co-ordinator Acting Sergeant Barry Mungar says the idea is to fill out the form and keep it in a safe place at home with a photo of your bike, ready to assist police in getting it back if it vanishes.

"With all the models and brands of bicycles out there, we needed something more to help the property branch get them returned," Mungar said.

The bike information package will also include pamphlets on bike and traffic safety. These are also available on the police website.